In every part of the world, Easter calls for a time to celebrate and spend some lovely moments with your closest family and relatives. Same as any other country, Switzerland has its own traditions, customs, and interesting gifts. But, Switzerland is super interesting because each part of the country has, at least, one specific tradition. However, in this article, we will mainly focus on traditions that belong to almost every part of the country. So, how do Swiss celebrate Easter and what are the most significant Swiss traditions?
Preparations usually start a week earlier. People start decorating their homes, as well as shops, with chocolate and colorful bunnies, specialized Easter chocolates, Easter cakes and sweets, and of course, colorful eggs. Logically, celebrating Easter also includes celebrating the springtime. The most common Swiss tradition is that the cuckoo brings the Easter eggs. In every part of the country, there are these three crucial parts of Easter spirit and celebration – eggs, cuckoo, and baskets.
A week before Easter comes, people display special Easter cakes, chocolate cuckoos, and colored eggs to remind children that the holiday is coming soon. On Easter Sunday, children wake up early to put colorful eggs into baskets. The child who gathers the highest number of eggs becomes the winner and receives gifts, such as chocolate or sugar eggs, as well as marzipan rabbits. In some traditional villages, around Easter time, gifts such as wine, cheese, and fresh bread are still popular. They believe it strengthens friendships among neighbors, which, indeed, is truth.
As you can see, there are many interesting customs in Switzerland. Hence, let’s slowly go through each of them, so you can have a clearer picture of how Swiss celebrate Easter. Some of the customs take part in every part of Switzerland, while some of them are specific to a particular canton or region.
Making an Easter tree
A small Easter tree, also called the Osterbaumli, is a cute Swiss tradition that also celebrates the arrival of spring. Usually, people cut sprigs off a tree and put them into a vase. Then, they add colorful Easter eggs, which, by the way, don’t have to be real ones. Plastic ones, from the supermarket, can do the trick as well.
Of course, same as many other parts of the world, Swiss Easter also can’t happen without dyed eggs. Every color is welcome, and some people, especially older ones, still prefer painting. But, there is one more tradition for more elaborately dyed eggs that include red and yellow onion skins. Besides eggs and onion skins, this process also requires old pantyhose, a bit of salt and vinegar, and some flora of people’s own choice.
Easter egg hunt
As we mentioned in the introduction, Easter Sunday morning is the time for hiding eggs, Easter chocolates, and toys inside the house. When children wake up, the Easter egg hunt time comes! Among different chocolates and sweets, Swiss people prefer small and large nougat eggs, jelly eggs with sugar coat, and of course, children’s favorite – chocolate bunnies! Small Easter cakes, called Osterchuechli, are another typical Swiss treat that contains rice or semolina. Swiss people either make their own, small or large, cakes, or buy them in supermarkets and bakeries. Easter egg hunt is the definition of how Swiss celebrate Easter.
Egg smash, also known as the Eiertutschen, is the funniest Easter tradition across Switzerland. The goal is to break somebody else’s egg without breaking your own. The winner gets to eat the egg. Usually, people smash eggs at home. However, in larger cities, such as Swiss capital Bern, people organize a big egg smashing competition on Easter Sunday. Believe us; it is a super fun event!
There is one more popular Easter game in Switzerland, similar to Eiertutschen, called Zwanzgerle. This tradition happens on Easter Monday. The difference is that, for Zwanzgerle, you need only one egg instead of two. Usually, the adults are those who try to break decorated eggs of their children with a twenty cent coin. If the coin cracks the eggshell and sticks in the egg, the adult claims the egg. On the other hand, the child claims the coin if the adult fails to crack the egg. The cool thing is that kids are likely to earn a few cents since it is pretty tough to do the trick with a coin. As you can see in the video, this tradition is very popular in Zurich.
This tradition, also called “Les Pleureuses,” is specific to western parts of Switzerland. During it, women carry crimson cushions and walk slowly through the streets. On crimson (red) cushions, they carry symbols of the crucifixion of Jesus – a crown of thorns, hammer, birch sticks, nails, and a whip. This custom happens on Easter Friday.
Decorated fountains in Nyon
People in Nyon, on Lake Geneva, every year compete in decorating the town’s fountains. What’s the most interesting – all members of the local community join the competition – schoolchildren, local clubs and businesses, etc. After decoration, members of the public can tour the fountains for a chance to win the prize. It is a lovely and fun tradition that happens during April.
We tried to gather in one place all primary traditions and customs that happen in Switzerland during Easter. Of course, there are many other customs, such as Chlefeli or Easter Zopf bread, that are also super popular across the whole country.
Anyways, we hope that now you have a clearer picture of how Swiss celebrate Easter. Swiss traditions are essential, and in many regions, people still pay attention to them each year. But, the crucial thing is that holidays, such as Easter, make stronger connections between people. It is always great to have a fun time with your family members and relatives, whether you are religious or not.